Grenade Hurled at Christian Church in Pakistan Kills Three on Christmas Day

Assailants tossed at least one grenade at a Christian church in a central Pakistani town on Christmas Day, killing three people, including a young girl, and injuring at least seven others, police said.

The attack against the Protestant Christian church in Daska, a town about 40 miles northwest of Lahore, was under investigation, the provincial police said in a statement.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack came the same day that police announced they had found explosives and ammunition near a heavily guarded church in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Church officials feared they had been the intended target of an attack, but went ahead with yuletide services.

Pakistani security officials said they found a shopping bag in bushes containing two handmade grenades and 20 shell casings about 100 yards from the St. Thomas's Protestant Church.

Brig. Javed Cheema, of the Interior Ministry, said the motive for leaving the weapons was not certain.

Since Pakistan lent its support to the U.S.-led military campaign to overthrow Afghanistan's hard-line Taliban, attacks on Christians by suspected Islamic militants have killed about 30 people and injured at least 100. The United States is widely identified as a Christian country.

There have been four deadly attacks on Christians in Pakistan this year. The last was on Sept. 25, when gunmen entered the offices of a Christian welfare organization in Karachi, tied seven employees to their chairs and shot each in the head, execution style.

On March 17, a grenade attack on Protestant church in Islamabad killed five people, including a U.S. Embassy employee and her 17-year-old daughter.

On Aug. 5, assailants raided a Christian school filled with foreign children in Murree, 40 miles east of Islamabad. Six Pakistanis were killed, including guards and non-teaching staff.

And on Aug. 9, attackers hurled grenades at worshippers at a church on the grounds of a Presbyterian hospital in Taxila, about 25 miles west of Islamabad, killing four people.

Radical Islamic groups have been blamed for the attacks aimed at attacking President Pervez Musharraf for his support of the global coalition's war on terror in neighboring Afghanistan.